Thursday, October 28, 2010

C'est L'halloween!

A photo I took at a fruit market in Navsari, Gujarat just as I was nearing the end of my trip.

The colours right now are reminding me of all the beautiful fall leaves brightening up the city during this time of year.

More news reporting to do this week-end! I've also got the keys to my new apartment. Won't have time to attend any of the Halloween jams... I've got navy-blue walls to paint over!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A Few Bangkok Highlights

My thoughts on my week-long visit to Bangkok last January are rather conflicting. The bad is astonishingly bad and the good is really good.  I was both inspired and discouraged in the city.  Let me start with what I actually enjoyed about the Thai capital.

Beautiful People - Yes I can be shallow! But you'll honestsly find the most strikingly good-looking men and women strutting along the streets of Bangkok. It's where international models re-locate once they've landed their big contracts or where model hopefuls show up simply to be discovered.

Never have I seen so many gorgeous people all in one spot. You hear about models getting air-brushed and all during their post-photo shoots; but the ones I saw right before my eyes were absolutely flawless.  I had to stop myself from gawking at all the beautiful people above me!

Friendly Locals - The women I met at the salons, shops, etc. were extrememly nice and easy to get along with. Perhaps there was a tip-incentive behind it, but I didn't mind. I got to have great conversation with some who were happy to share a little insight into their lives. 

Many  of the local women complained about being unable to meet a decent, straight man in town. The ones they did know of were the "cheats." There's a high number of transexuals all through the city, or 'sheboys' as the ladies called them. Straight men were a rare find.

Thai Buddhism - I now understand why many travellers return from their Thailand trips mesmerised with Buddhism. I walked into some temples just for a quick glance but after a few minutes of sitting down, found myself unwanting to leave. There's an immense, almost elevated, sense of peace felt  inside the quiet spaces. It was the collective energy of everyone combined that made the experience so powerful and memorable.

Public Transportation - The train system was quite convenient, simple and inexpensive to use. I was able to switch train lines quite easily - and I'm a person who's known to get lost! The train was also quite clean, efficient and punctual with its schedule.

The only downside to the train system was that I love to munch though, so security would always ask me to discard my food or beverage before hopping on. That was a shame.
I never needed to use the buses but did travel by ferry; that too was extremely easy to navigate.

As for the dislikes, best I save them for another time...

Friday, October 22, 2010

Damas Restaurant - A Syrian Delight!

Damas Restaurant
5210 Parc Ave.
Montreal, Quebec H2V 4G7
Tel.: (514) 439-5435

As of late I’ve been exploring many of the scrumptious Syrian delights being served up at Damas Restaurant located in Montreal’s Mile End. Damas is the capital city of Syria in French; in English, it’s popularly known as Damascus. The restaurant just opened a few weeks ago and is already busy catering to foodies like myself! My friends and I have gone back a few times since our first trial for that consistently satisfying fix.

Fuad Alnirabie is one of the restaurant owners who also happens to be co-owner of Kaza Maza (which made the Montreal Mirror's List of Top Ten 'Best New Restaurants').  Alnirabie says the difference between the two is “Damas is more authentic and refined. It serves meals that you cannot find in other Syrian restaurants in Montreal.”
Syrian cuisine is known for its lamb dishes, stuffed meats and vegetables, grilled foods and mezzes.  Unique spices and herbs like aleppo pepper, cardamom, anis and sumac are incorporated. Olive oil is also a signature ingredient which does make the food a bit heavy at times – so head in with a large appetite!

The menu’s varied enough to cater to vegetarians and meat-lovers alike.  I’ve been trying to order something different each time I go. But the fattouch salad with pomegranate and fried pita entrée, along with their hearty lentil soup, has already become a favourite of mine. The last dish I tried was the Fatta Makdous (layered dish of minced lamb meat, eggplant, yogourt and tomato sauce) and I haven't been wanting to try anything else since. It's got to be the crème de la crème! 

Alnirabie suggests clients not leave without trying at least one of the four fatta specialties, the grilled cherry or pistachio kebab, and his signature lamb poutine drizzled with a  unique wine-based gravy.

I leave you now with some more photos of the many dishes my friends and I have tried thus far.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

I'll be adding a proper entry soon. For now, I'm adding a brief update. I'm getting a lot more reporting shifts - always a plus! But some stories have been rather challenging and yes, screw-ups on my part were involved.  At least I'm learning from it all.

I'll be getting a bit more experience in documentary production next week-end; it'll be a side project I'm quite looking forward to.

I've been vigorously looking for more work opportunities so I can transition out of this part-time receptionist gig. So far, only have one interview lined up but it's a start right!

My big moving day is also next week-end. Haven't started packing or planning for it really.

That's all for now folks!  

Monday, October 11, 2010

The 5K Walk

So my participation in the "run for the cure" event at Maisonneuve Park wound up being a stroll rather. My team opted towards the walking option instead of running. It took us over two hours to complete the five-kilometre path while some sprinters completed the course in twenty minutes! I was getting pretty tired after just three kilometres but watching this woman keep at it encouraged me.   

There were 20,000 participants overall.    Together, over $2 million was raised. Our team personally raised nearly $8000 dollars. We're aiming for $10,000 next year.

I'd consider doing it all over again. Partaking in a positive cause feels pretty good. But there are some things I'd want to avoid. The obligatory registration process that same morning was hectic. Thousands of people scrambled all over the place trying to figure out where to go. There weren't any visible signs outside the park for participants to follow. 

At the end of the course there were two white tents set up where complimentary snacks like bananas, bagels and cheese were distributed to participants. It was much needed at that point. But up ahead there was a much larger, colourful tent set up by the CIBC sponsors exclusively for its employees. They had an entire barbeque station available to them. Some participants were disappointed by the segregation, especially kids who didn't understand why they couldn't have what some of the other grown-ups were having. How do you explain that to children?

Anyway, I'm signing off with a few more photos from the Sunday, October 3rd event:


Friday, October 1, 2010

The Week-End to End Breast Cancer!

SOoooo I've found my own apartment space! The location's great and the cost of rent falls right in my budget! I love when things have a way of working out. The big move is mid-October. I can't wait to create my very own one-of-a-kind space!

This Sunday I'll be taking part in the CIBC Run for the Cure for breast cancer.  I think everyone knows of someone who's suffered from the dreaded C-word. I first learned of its seriousness in highschool.

My dear friend was too sick to make it to our highly-anticipated prom. We were all worrying about what dress to wear and hairdo to keep as she struggled through her chemo sessions. She stayed positive, forced a smile and made us promise to tell her about all the glitzy details. By the time the rest of us started collegeshe had died from leukemia. It's taking way too long but I remain hopeful that one day there will be a cure.

Our team reached our fundraising goal just a few days prior to the deadline. It wasn't easy squeezing donations out of people. Fortunately, our contacts came through just in time. A heartfelt thank-you to MEGHNA and all other generous donors for making it possible!

I'll be sure to post some photos of the week-end event. For now, I leave you with a new art piece of mine.